I’m back, bearing good tidings and random musings. With a residual hacking cough but a new lease on life, I’m back from the depths of the Martian Death Flu (MDF). Our annual Thanksgiving trek to our cabin in Lake Arrowhead was somewhat less productive than I had hoped (no killer blogging, no finalized business plan for 2007, and no hikes in the woods). A big shout-out, however, to the makers of Kleenex. As we were preparing for our departure yesterday back to reality (and for me, back to the world of the living), the dog of course threw up what at first glance appeared to be random squirrel parts but, alas, was only the remnants of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Ahh, the holidays.
I knew I was in for a project when I finally got back to the feedreader, and Greg at the Bloodhound did not disappoint with 68 new posts I had missed during my brief walk with death. At least he missed me. No offers to be the Union Tribune’s new humor columnist, I’m afraid, but we did indeed log a small pile of contracts during my dark days, Greg. Thanks for giving me a little more credit than I deserve. I was actually somewhat surprised at the number of people who thought my absence was due to something sinister or intriguing, such as foul play. Unfortunately, there is no glamour in the MDF.
I knew I was on the comeback trail when Steve and I spent our last night of “vacation” guffawing over the Lake Arrowhead Homes and Land ads. Oh sure, we could have devoted our precious last moments on the deck of our falling-down-cabin in awe of nature and feeding the squirrels, but I suppose real estate agents are just wired differently. For our far-away cyberbuddies, Lake Arrowhead is a little-ish resort town in the San Bernardino Mountains. A mere twenty minutes from San Bernardino and halfway up the hill to Big Bear and the ski resorts (assuming it gets cold enough this year to make snow), Lake Arrowhead is a funny animal. In San Diego, any Realtor from San Bernardino county can join our Board, view, show and sell properties in our county. But, in Arrowhead, there is no reciprocation. Their Board is a closed system, so unless you hang your license on the hill, you are at the mercy of the local agents. Steve says this is a self-preservation practice; being a community of primarily second-home owners from San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles Counties, local agents would starve in a world of free enterprise. I say this smacks of eliteism. Even the lake is private. Sure, anyone can look at it (no fines for that that I am aware of), but unless your home is within the “lake rights” boundaries, you will not be floating a boat or dipping a toe in. Whatever it is, the 21st century is seeming to pass them by. You can Google all day, but you will not find a single decent website or any blog of Lake Arrowhead origin. Search Realtor.com, and I challenge you to find more than a handful of visual tours or a smattering of listings with the full complement of photos.
But, there is always Homes and Land. Our favorite compelling ad for home loans shows the lender surrounded by his large family (I can only assume those children belong to him) at a bowling alley, and they are all proudly posing with their bowling balls. Now, that’s the guy I want securing my financing. There are the competing real estate companies with ads where all of the agents are either in red polo shirts (the red team) or the blue shirts (the blue team). There is the top producer who looks like she applied her makeup with a sling shot and had her hair styled by angry beavers. We think we would like her. Then there is the ad copy. One full-page spread for a $5 million dollar lakefront had a beautiful photo of what was described as a “Conservation Wet Bar”. Steve and I discussed our low-lander ignorance. Is a conservation bar one that uses low-flow technology? Or maybe the bar itself was constructed of rain forest woods. Whatever it is, we decided we deserved one of those guys. (Editor’s note: It occured to the Editor during the second glass of Chardonnay that it was in fact a “Conversation” bar. Never mind. Don’t really need one). By the way, the photo of the “Conservation” bar, obviously carefully staged and professionally shot, featured a cardboard Kleenex box in the center. Even the rich can succumb to MDF, I guess. Another home advertised as “perfect for the Jetsetter”, this carrying a $10 million price tag, promoted a “hydrolic” lift. Apparently Jetsetters don’t mess around with unnecessary vowels. But they do own Thesauruses. This home was “an amazing edifice”. Edifice? I know it means building, but I am not entirely convinced I want to own an edifice. It just sounds yicky.
So, during our trip to the local Starbucks (yes, they do have one of those!), we had a good chuckle, being the big-city folk, over the man who grabbed a cup sleeve for his ice-cold frappacino. My youngest daughter thought this was particularly amusing… until I got her home and had to peel her frozen fingers from her own, fortunately with most of the skin intact. Guess we aren’t so smart afterall. It’s good to be home. I’ll be going back to work today to see if I can sell a couple of edifices.
(I’ll leave you with this, reprinted without permission, a post by Russell Shaw. For mature audiences only).